Antonio Cairoli has won the MX1 Motocross World Championship at his first attempt, with a safe sixth place finish in Sunday's Grand Prix of the Netherlands, the penultimate round.
The 23 year old celebrated with his Italian team as he converted twelve of fourteen rounds as the 'red plate' holder into a maiden title success, becoming the youngest MX1 winner, with his third career championship, also the first to claim crowns in both the MX2 and MX1 classes.
Cairoli came into the meeting with discomfort in his left knee as a consequence of a meniscus problem. He tentatively rode to 12th place in the qualification heat while main rival Max Nagl was 3rd.
In the first race a conservative pace brought him up to fifth, three places ahead of the German after the latter had crashed. A tense second moto took place later in the afternoon as Cairoli gave chase to Nagl, requiring just two points and an overtaking move to mathematically begin celebrations. T
he four-time GP winner in '09 made light work of his pass and rode comfortably to fourth, confirming the championship with one round remaining.
"This means so much to me and I am a little lost for words at the moment,” said Toni, who will switch to KTM, alongside Nagl, next season. “I did not expect this in my first season and was already a bit surprised to have the red plate by the third round, and then keep it until the end.
“If you look at most of the MX2 riders who move up to MX1 they need a season or two to establish themselves so this is a big achievement for us and I am very proud.
“In the second moto here my goal was just to pass Max and push as much as I could to get away. I could not walk well on Friday so I was full of a lot of doubt for this GP; I just took it steady, when the track got rougher I could push a little bit more. I want to say thanks to everybody, all my team, my family; I am so happy."
At the front end of the field Teka Suzuki's Ken de Dycker dominated the event with two moto victories through the rough and rutted sand. It was the second win of the season for the Belgian and the works RM-Z450 and he was only denied a 'perfect set' across the weekend when he was second in the morning warm-up!